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Records, recollections and Reminiscences. [from the Southern Practitioner, Nashville, Tenn., October, 1902.]

General T. J. Jackson (Stonewall) and his Medical Director, Hunter McGuire, M. D., at Winchester, May, 1862. an important incident of the Shenandoah Valley campaign.

Prepared by Samuel E. Lewis, M. D., of Washington, D. C., First Vice-President of the Association of Medical officers of the Army and Navy of the Confederacy.

In the Medical and Surgical Journal of the Confederate States. I found, about ten years ago, a long overlooked and almost forgotten incident of the famous Valley campaign, which I deemed of sufficient importance to again bring to the light of (lay, and endeavored to trace the order therein referred to, but unavailingly. Being under the impression that the occurrence and its importance are not generally known this paper has been prepared to be read at the Dallas Reunion of the Association of Medical Officers of the Army and Navy of the Confederacy.

In further preface to the subject matter the writer begs leave to refer to the letter of Herr Hans Zeimer, dated Heiden, Appenzell, Switzerland, January 2, 1902, regarding M. Henri Dunant; and to to glean a few facts relating to the whereabouts and condition of that devoted humanitarian. M. Dunant, born May 8, 1828, Geneva, Switzerland, appears now infirm, venerable, with white hair and beard and benevolent face. He was found in a poor little cabin, a dependency of the pauper farm belonging to the village of Heiden, in which he found a home more than twenty years ago when he had become sick, penniless, and friendless, after having given the prime of his life, health and wealth to the cause of humanity. There he had been cared for entirely at the expense of the village, till in 1896 the Empress of Russia granted a pension which enabled him to defray it in part.

Herr Zeimer had called to inform him that the administrators of the Nobel fund for the advancement of scientific and humanitarian [227] propaganda and investigation had selected him (M. Dunant) and Frederick Bassy to divide between them the Annual Prize of one hundred thousand francs for the most useful efforts to promote the cause of peace. The information was received with great calmness—almost indifference—with the remark that it would be declined if it were to be required that he should leave his present abode, as he had become greatly attached to the poor people who were caring for him, but upon reflection said he would be glad to receive his proportion as it would more than defray the expense of his keeping and relieve those upon whose kindness he had so long been a burden.

Unhappily, there is a condition attached to the prize which would entail great hardship upon him should its enforcement be insisted upon. It is that ‘every prize winner shall appear in Stockholm within six months after acceptance to deliver a lecture upon the subject that gained him the prize;’ and as he has been so long infirm and confined as to be unable and unwilling to comply with these terms, he may at last be deprived of even this slight recognition. In his behalf his friends now propose that a medical certificate as to his physical condition shall be sent to Stockholm, countersigned by the Mayor and the village priest; and at the same time an appeal be made to King Oscar. It is sincerely to be hoped their kindly efforts may prove successful; and here we will leave consideration of his present circumstances, to briefly refer to his noble efforts to alleviate suffering induced by warfare and the promotion of progress of humanity in war.

On June 24, 1859, M. Henri Dunant, physician, of Geneva, was present as a spectator at Solferino when more than three hundred thousand men were engaged in combat, where the line of battle extended to more than fifteen miles, and the fight lasted more than fifteen hours. When the losses of the allied French and Sardinians were 18,000 killed and wounded; and those of the Austrians 20,000 killed and wounded, 6,000 prisoners, and 30 cannon. He saw there during the following days the sufferings and privations of the wounded lying on the field or hurried into improvised hospitals, devoured no longer by fire and sword, but hopeless and dying from being abandoned, from want of ready, sufficient, and efficacious help, and from the diseases born of field and hospitals.

He proclaimed anew the conviction that the wounded man on the ground, of whatever nation is sacred; that humanity is international; and that medical officers in attendance upon the sick and wounded, [228] their assistants, and the stores consecrated to the service of the invalid should be respected.

Encouraged by the favorable reception of his declared convictions he addressed to the War Ministers of nearly all the States of Europe a proposition to send official delegates to Geneva to consider and establish them. Fourteen governments complied, and after four days consultation their representatives adopted a programme demanding neutralization during war by belligerent nations of ambulances and hospitals, their staff and material, and the adoption of a common flag and badge for those engaged in the charitable work.

M. Dunant, M. Monier, and General Dupin, with others, continued to labor to effect the practical realization of these objects. Committees were established in the various kingdoms. Commissioners were dispatched to observe the course of events during the war in Schleswig-Holstein, and to ascertain how far voluntary efforts might be made available in mitigating the horrors of war without interfering with the efficiency of military operations—for a great part of the conception of the authors of this Congress was to provide for the organization and official reception of such voluntary charitable corps in time of war. Subsequently they supplicated the Swiss government, as a neutral power, to take the initiative in inviting all the sovereign powers to concert stipulations, which might be introduced into the law of nations, as to the character of the wounded and of those who bring them succor. This invitation was generally accepted, and resulted in the important convention of 1863, from which the basis of a Congress issued. It was a great work to have sprung so rapidly from the initiative of a few private individuals; and the names of its authors well deserve to be consecrated high on the roll of the greatest benefactors of all time.

To Florence Nightingale, of England, heroine nurse of the Crimean war, and to Henri Dunant, the Geneva physician, the world is indebted for great progress in the advancement of humane efforts in warfare, and their impress upon civilization in that direction.

To what extent information of these humane propositions became known and supported in the United States has not been ascertained, but it would seem to appear that unhappily they aroused no public interest, nor consideration by the government. It was but a short while after M. Dunant gave to the world his ‘Souvenir of Solferino,’ that the great war between the States began, and continued for four years. Incalculable physical suffering and mental distress would have been avoided had there been some community of thought [229] and action between the contending governments on the line of the humane propositions mentioned. Unfortunately their policies in all that related to non-combatants, medical supplies, and exchange of prisoners, were diametrically opposed. The United States Government early declared by proclamation or order all medicines, surgical instruments and appliances contraband of war, and they were so regarded to the end of the struggle.

The ill temper and inhumanity of the time in the North extended even to the medical profession, as evidenced at the Convention of the American Medical Association held in Chicago in 1863, when Dr. Gardner, of New York, introduced preamble and resolutions petitioning the Northern government to repeal the orders declaring medical and surgical appliances contraband of war; arguing that such cruelty rebounded on their own soldiers, many of whom as prisoners in the hands of the Confederates, shared the suffering resulting from such a policy, while the act itself was worthy the dark ages of the world's history. It is lamentable to have to record that this learned and powerful Association of the medical men then limited to the North, forgetful of the noble and unselfish teachings of the healing art, in their senseless passion hissed their benevolent brother from the hall.

The Northern government also resisted all efforts to effect a satisfactory agreement regarding exchange of prisoners, only closing its eyes and pretending not to be aware of the informal agreements of opposing generals in the field as to the exchange of prisoners in their hands respectively, till July 22, 1862, when a general cartel was agreed upon by the two governments, but which was never carried out satisfactorily, and in 1864 was practically suspended altogether; so that even the great prisons became inadequate for the increased demands upon them. Had there been satisfactory agreement and good faith in carrying out the cartels Andersonville would not have been established, and there would have been avoided that distressing calamity; and the effort which grew out of it to blacken the character of President Davis; and the persecution of Major Henry Wirz, and his cruel execution by hanging. Justice has never been done that noble heroism which resisted and spurned the base and formidable bribe of life and liberty, and held fast to the truth. The Southern people should ever hold his memory dear. Nor would there have been Camp Douglas, Illinois; Camp Butler, Illinois; Alton, Illinois; Rock Island, Illinois; Camp Morton, Indiana; or Elmira, New York; with their frightful records of suffering and death. [230]

Nor would there be still lying scattered throughout the Northern States twenty-eight thousand Confederate dead, difficult to locate, many never to be found, most of which are unmarked, a portion inadequately so, lost to their kindred and friends—lost to history—a fruitful source of sectional bitterness for nearly forty years—not yet removed.

As early as May 21, 1861, the Confederate Congress passed an Act as follows: ‘All prisoners of war whether taken on land or sea, during the pending hostilities with the United States, shall be transferred by the captors from time to time, and as often as convenient, to the Department of war; and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of War, with the approval of the President, to issue such instructions to the Quartermaster-General and his subordinates as shall provide for the safe custody and sustenance of prisoners of war, and the rations furnished prisoners of war shall be the same in quantity and quality as those furnished to enlisted men in the army of the Confederacy.’ President Davis states in his Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government that this law of Congress was embodied in the orders issued from the War Department and from the headquarters in the field and no order was ever issued in conflict with its humane provisions.

Other than the occasional exchanges in the field before noted, there was no effort in that direction till February 14, 1862, when an arrangement was made by the representatives of both governments, General Howell Cobb and General Wool, under which some exchanges were made, but the agreement was soon abandoned, and matters proceeded as before.

Our surgeons were distinguished not only for knowledge and skill but also for humanity to the sick and wounded of the enemy; and they extended the greatest courtesy and aid to the Federal Medical Corps, as, for instance, after the second Manassas battle by Medical Director L. Guild of General Lee's army to Medical Director Thomas A. McParlin of General Pope's army; and by Medical Director Hunter McGuire of General Jackson's army to Brigade Surgeon J. Burd Peale and others of General Banks' army. Prior to the capture of Winchester in May, 1862, the medical officers were held as prisoners in like manner as other officers; but were often permitted to give their services to their suffering fellow-prisoners.

Especial mention is made of the circumstance that when General Jackson defeated General Banks and entered Winchester on the morning of May 25th, 1862, besides the quarter of a million dollars' [231] worth of medical and quartermaster's supplies captured, he found at Union (Hotel) Hospital seven Federal surgeons and assistant surgeons and about three hundred sick and wounded, besides attendants, nurses and other inmates, all of whom became prisoners. The General directed through Acting Medical Director Harvey Black, that Brigade Surgeon Peale, U. S. A., continue in charge undisturbed, and ordered all the sick and wounded Federal prisoners who should be brought in from the field to be placed in his care. Surgeon Peale was also permitted to have sixty-four attendants from the able prisoners necessary for carrying on the hospital; and to be furnished by the Commissary with provisions upon requisition.

Assistant Surgeon Philip Adolphus, U. S. A., was captured on the battle-field on the 25th and taken to Winchester, where he offered his services to Surgeon Peale, and became part of his corps at the hospital. In the narrative furnished to his superior officers he states: ‘The enemy generally permitted me to continue my vocation, and furnished me, at my request, at once with a guard to protect me, the property in my charge and my men.’ The status of affairs mentioned above continued till the retirement of General Jackson on the 31st of May. On that day the Provost Marshal paroled all the men in the hospital. But the medical officers were liberated in a special and peculiar manner, which had beneficial results subsequently. They executed the following very formal and important document:

Winchester, Va., May 31, 1862.

We, Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons United States Army, now prisoners of war in this place, do give our parole of honor, on being unconditionally released, to report in person, singly or collectively, to the Secretary of War, in Washington city, and that we will use our best efforts that the same number of medical officers of the Confederate States Army, now prisoners or that may hereafter be taken, be released on the same terms. And, furthermore, we will, on our honor, use our best efforts to have this principle established, viz: the unconditional release of all medical officers taken prisoners of war hereafter.


J. Burd Peale, Brigade Surgeon, Blenker's Div. J. J. Jonson, Surgeon 27th Indiana Vols. Francis Leland, Surgeon, Second Mass. Vols. Philip Adolphus, Assistant Surgeon, U. S. A. Lincoln R. Stone, Ass't Surg., 2nd Mass. Vols. Joseph F. Day, Jr., Ass't Surg., 10th Me. Vols.


Evelyn L. Bissel, Ass't Surg., 5th Conn. Vols. Approved:

Hunter McGuire, Medical Director,
Army of the Valley, C. S.

The preparation and execution of this document resulted from a conference between General Jackson and Surgeon McGuire; and Surgeon Daniel B. Conrad, of the Second Virginia Regiment, was present with Dr. McGuire on the occasion of the release of these medical officers. In a letter as late as September 30, 1898, Dr. McGuire writes:

‘In the month of May, 1862, after the defeat of General Banks by General Jackson at Winchester, I found among the captured prisoners eight surgeons or assistant surgeons at the Union Hotel Hospital in Winchester. As Medical Director of the Army I reported the fact to General Jackson and asked his permission to unconditionally release these medical officers upon their parole of honor. That they were to remain in charge of the Federal sick and wounded in Winchester for fifteen days. After the expiration of the fifteen days their parole permitted them to report to their commanding officers for duty. It was understood by these gentlemen that they were to use every effort to have released, on the same terms, the medical officers of the Confederate States who were then prisoners of the Federal Government, or any medical officers of the Confederate States who might thereafter be captured. General T. J. Jackson assented to the proposition I made to him very readily and directed me to carry out the suggestion. With Dr. Daniel B. Conrad, of the Second Virginia Regiment, Confederate States, I went to the Union Hotel Hospital and released on parole the surgeons, assistant surgeons, attendants and nurses, but not the sick and wounded who were afterwards paroled by the regular officers of our army, not to take up arms again until properly exchanged. No regular order was issued by General Jackson to perform the duty I have reported, but the policy and humanity of such a measure was repeatedly discussed by him and myself afterwards. I kept up the practice of releasing Federal medical officers as soon as captured during my term of service as Medical Director with Jackson, Ewell, Early and Gordon, with whom I successively served as Chief Surgeon, or Medical Director, until the close of the war. A week before the defeat and capture of the greater portion of General Early's army at Waynesboro by Sheridan in 1865, I released the Medical Inspector of General [233] Sheridan, who had been captured by some of our troops in the Valley of Virginia. When, among others, I was captured at Waynesboro, General Sheridan sent for me and after a short talk released me from prison on parole on the same terms that I had accorded to his medical officers. The fact of the release of the Federal surgeons at Winchester in May, 1862, was noticed by the Confederate States Medical and Surgical Journal and by the different newspapers of that period. Soon after the release of these Federal surgeons, and I believe in consequence of their parole, a number of Confederate surgeons, then in Northern prisons, were sent home.’

From the Confederate War Journal of General Marcus J. Wright, Lexington, Ky., and New York, 1893-5, Vol. 2, p. 124, I glean the following as worthy of mention relating to the operations at that time as reported by Lieutenant-General T. J. Jackson from headquarters Second Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, April 10, 1863, to Brigadier-General R. H. Chilton, Acting Adjutant-General and Inspector-General, Headquarters Department of North Virginia:

The public property captured in this expedition (1862) at Front Royal, Winchester, Martinsburg and Charleston was of great value.

The medical stores, which filled one of the largest storehouses in Virginia, were fortunately saved. Most of the instruments and some of the medicines, urgently needed at the time by the command, were issued to the surgeons; the residue was sent to Charlottesville and turned over to a medical purveyor. Two large and well furnished hospitals, capable of accommodating some seven hundred patients, were found in the town and left undisturbed, with all their stores, for the use of the sick and wounded of the enemy.

There were found in the hospitals at Winchester about 700 sick and wounded of the enemy. * * * Those left in the hospitals were paroled. Eight Federal surgeons, attending the sick and wounded at Winchester, were at first held as prisoners of war, though paroled, and the next day unconditionally released. * * * Dr. H. Black, Acting Medical Director, discharged his duties well.

The following extract will be found of interest from a letter to Dr. Kent Black, Blacksburg, Va., son of Surgeon Harvey Black, dated Marion, Va., December 26, 1898, from Dr. John S. Apperson, formerly Hospital Steward to Surgeon Harvey Black from Harper's Ferry, Va., when the old Stonewall Brigade was organized up to the surrender at Appomattox. [234]

I remember, and very clearly, that about this time it was well understood that General Jackson regarded the medical officers of the opposing army as non-combatants and not amenable to the same restrictions as other prisoners of war. And this is in perfect harmony with the Christian character of this great soldier. His courage, fidelity to duty, and loyalty to his native State and the cause he loved were equaled only by his humanity. No matter what the conditions were—whether in camp or on the march, in battle, flushed with victory or falling back before an overwhelming force, as he once or twice did, he never failed to require the utmost care on the part of his medical officers for his own sick and wounded, and a feeling of compassion, akin to sympathy, for a maimed and crippled foe was manifest in all that he did.

So great was General Jackson's concern for the sick and wounded of his army and the efficiency of his medical corps he encouraged the organization of a travelling hospital or field infirmary. This was put into operation just before the battle of Fredericksburg, in December, 1862, and it has been a question with me whether or not this was the first undertaking of the kind in either army. It was a distinct organization, reporting directly to headquarters. It had its commissary and quartermaster, ambulances, transportation wagons, hospital tents, medical supplies, stewards, detailed nurses and matron in addition to a sufficient number of commissioned medical officers. As an interesting fact, there were also, as a part of this outfit, some ten or twelve milch cows, a part of which accompanied the army through the Pennsylvania campaign and back to Virginia. Surgeon H. Black was put in charge of this department at the time of its organization, and remained in charge of it until the war closed.

At the present time, some of us who served the Southern Confederacy through the four years of the Civil war, and who know from personal experience the hardships and actual want induced by the scarcity of food, clothing, medicines, and war equipments of every kind in the Southern army, have been, at times, amusingly entertained by the complaints we hear from the army sent out this year in the recent war with Spain.

I am sorry, Doctor, that I cannot, through you, help Dr. Lewis more than this letter will. His effort is a laudable one. If it does nothing more it will afford much indisputable evidence that the humane exchange of medical officers was first suggested and practiced by General Jackson, and if it had been carried out in good faith, as [235] it should have been, would have been fruitful of much good to suffering humanity.

General Stephen D. Lee writes from Agricultural College, Miss., December 14, 1898:

I will forward to General Clement A. Evans, at Atlanta, the evidence you sent me of the humane policy of General Jackson in dealing liberally and humanely with surgeons, hospitals and wounded in war. I think the action of General Jackson will be a crowning honor to the treatment of prisoners, for which we have been so unjustly assailed.

General Clement A. Evans, of Atlanta, Ga., writes, October 20, 1898:

You have touched here a very important subject. Our claim that we were the most humane people who ever conducted a great war can be established by additional proof.

And also in the Confederate Military History, Atlanta, Ga., 1899, in his editorial remarks on pages 246-7, Vol. 3 (Virginia), he states:

It is noteworthy that after this battle of Winchester there was inaugurated a humanitarian movement in reference to surgeons left in charge of wounded prisoners that has since become the rule among civilized nations engaged in war.

The afore-recited incident at Winchester was a new departure, without parallel during the war, and when it is remembered that definite action was not finally taken by the Geneva Congress and the adoption of the Red Cross till twenty-six months afterwards, August 22, 1864, the credit and honor are due to our unsurpassed General of the Valley and his unsurpassed Medical Director, for the first practical putting in operation the humane convictions and propositions of M. Dunant and his colaborers, though it is possible, even probable, that they were then uninformed regarding that humane physician and his works. Their policy and action were indeed but the fruits of the civilization, the culture, the broad-mindedness and humanity, and the Christianity of the Southern people at that time.

References:U. S. Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, Appendix Part I., Med. Vol., p. 118.
Medical and Surgical Journal of the Confederate States.


War Record Journal, New York and Lexington, Ky., 1893-6, Vol. II, page 124.
Confederate Military History, Vol. III, (Virginia), p. 246.
Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Jefferson Davis.

1418 Fourteenth Street, N. W., Washington, D. C., March 20, 1902.

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